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    Jun 03, 2016

    Gradual ban on Sri Lanka maids abroad amid abuse cases


    SRI Lanka will gradually stop sending house maids abroad, especially to Middle Eastern countries such as Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.

    This is due to the abuse of the maids' rights by employers and the growing labour shortage at home, government spokesman Rajitha Senaratne told Reuters on Wednesday.

    However, a day earlier, Minister of Foreign Employment Thalatha Athukorala proposed lowering the age limit for women intending to work as house maids overseas from 25 to 22 so that more could join the outflow, the Hiru News website reported.

    Ms Athukorala's proposal was shot down and she was appointed by Parliament to study the issue of women going abroad, along with the problems faced by them, and formulate a national policy.

    Sri Lanka's expatriate workers, who are mainly house maids and unskilled labourers, send back around US$7 billion (S$9.6 billion) worth of remittances every year.

    "We want to discourage the house-maids category in the foreign employment because the social cost is very high," Mr Senaratne said, citing human-rights abuses by employers.

    The total number of departures for foreign employment declined by 12.4 per cent last year to 263,307, partly due to the economic slowdown in the Middle East.

    In 2013, around 1,650 Sri Lankan house maids complained of being physically and sexually abused by their employers, with most charges coming from the Middle East. AGENCIES